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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Holidays & Seasons > Christmas

Homemade Holiday Baskets - Give a Touch of You!
by Stephania Munson-Bishop

Have you made your gift list? Wondering what the balance on your credit cards will look like come January 1st if you buy everything on the children's wish lists? Have you been to the stores, up and down the aisles, finding little that seems either appropriate or affordable? Feeling stressed or discouraged?

If you have little ones in the house who still believe in Santa, their One Big Gift has to be a priority. But for the rest on your list, they'll be more pleased with a gift that shows ingenuity and a true understanding of Who they are and what they like than if you'd spent a fortune on their holiday remembrance.

Assemble wicker baskets from yard sales, Big Lots, housewares sections of department stores. Recycle old or faded baskets by spray-painting with gold, green, or silver. Is there a teenage girl or boy on your list? A co-worker you'd like to do something special for? Baskets with your own personal touch are the economical answer.

Pick several themes thinking about the likes and habits of those the baskets will be for, decide which recipient would be well-suited for each theme, and go shopping with your "Theme List" and the number of baskets to fill.

Picnic baskets may be the true no-brainer. Buy several natural wicker baskets for your family (your brother's or cousin's family, Grandpa and Grandma). Include a red and white checked tablecloth, recyclable plates and cups, sturdy plastic flatware, oversized paper napkins, one or two gourmet mustards, mesquite seasoning for cook-outs, even a citronella candle. Depending on the price of the basket itself, and whether you buy or make the tablecloths with a rolled hem on your sewing machine, each basket should cost $35 to $50. For an entire family or a couple, this is really an inexpensive but thoughtful gift.

New-Age Basket: incense, handmade herbal soaps, Celestial Seasoning tea assortment, patchouli skin balm, recycled-paper notecards with a "natural" logo, sealing wax, shampoo made by an eco-conscious manufacturer ('no animals were harmed in the testing of our products' on the label), a pretty bracelet or pair of earrings.

Cheese Lovers Basket: gouda, Stilton, halvarti, brie and other cheeses, a package or two of wheat or rye crackers, a cheese slicer and small cheese board, a jar of mint jelly or jalapeno relish.

It's easy to assemble baskets for those who like to cook. Try a Chili-Lovers Basket: Tex-Mex seasonings, bottled chili peppers, 2 lbs. of dried pinto beans in a reusable tin, a box of baking chocolate squares, bag of corn chips or tortillas, and several chili recipes. A Greek basket could include: a bottle of Greek olives and one of pepperocini, jar of honey, bag of walnut halves, jar of grape leaves, 1 lb. of phyllo dough, feta cheese.

Don't forget zany refrigerator magnets and small scented candles. You can include those in almost any basket. And keep reading for gourmet jams and jellies you can make in a snap, refrigerate and add to the baskets at the last minute with other refrigerated items from the above lists.

These are only a few suggestions. Use your imagination, depending on your own gift list. A coffee lover? A great-aunt who's fond of sending letters? A grandma who enjoys embroidery? A niece who loves chocolate? A nephew who just got his driver's license and has his first car? A grandchild who chatters incessantly about SpongeBob? Your baskets will almost create themselves!

And when your baskets of treasures are assembled, wrap them in colored cellophane from the gift wrap section of the department store, or even with colored Saran wrap (green or rose), a big bow, and a gift tag. Small children aren't the only ones who love to discover a lot of little gifts. Adults enjoy it, too!

Stephania is a human service professional with nearly 40 years in the field. She publishes a monthly content-rich ezine, "Tidbits from the Pantry," about life, growth, and relationships to over 10,000 subscribers, and offers a free evaluation of life's problems to any subscriber.

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